Praise Thee and fell unto our poisoned town.
“Well Sarah, I suppose you might be wondering what’s go’n’a happen to you when we get out to the middle of the lake.” The boat left the police dock a few moments ago. Maxwell flips the red’n’blues back on, then turns his face towards the petrified Earthen girl standing with her back against the closed cabin door. “It’s all right, I had Officer Hubert stay back on dry land. You’re safe out here.”
Sarah manages to squeak out, “I don’t feel very safe,” then clamps her mouth shut again.
Chief Maxwell nods as if he has even the slightest understanding of what Sarah Hammond has been forced to endure the past couple days, then turns back around to face the water. They coast in silence for a moment.
“Nobody was supposed to tell you anything,” Chief Maxwell says to the cabin’s windshield, “about what was going to happen tonight. Nobody was supposed to talk to you at all, tell you the truth, but The Tome said everyone would. The Tome also said someone would give up the goose. Has anyone talked?”
“I know about Rock,” Sarah finally says after letting Maxwell listen to the sound of waves hitting the hull. “And the… vortex. How you call everyone who’s not white Earthen, and how you all think us living in the town is poison.” She pauses for a moment, unsure if she should mention the book. “I also know about The Tome of Rock, and that you’re going to sacrifice me tonight.”
If Sarah could look at Chief Maxwell’s face, she’d see the biggest puss she’s ever seen on a man’s mug.
“Who told you?” he asks quietly.
“Does it even matter?” she answers loudly. “You’re all crazy, you know that?”
“I know what I know, Sarah,” the chief answers, but he sounds unsure. “The Tome appeared in a flash of light so bright it knocked me out of my chair, almost made me spill a drink. Our uniforms, and the Pee-Jays you have on now, all arrived in a box delivered to my back door, and I have a fence around my backyard. That book… it spoke of things no man could possibly know… all our names were printed in the book, Sarah. Mine, the other Fellers’, even yours.”
Sarah Hammond feels a rock drop into her stomach. Suddenly she’s very queasy, and it’s not the rocking of the boat.
“The Tome told me how to abduct you, where your family would be driving and at what time. The Tome told me everything, Sarah. The only thing it didn’t mention is that damn smart car we saw on Cannonball, but I think if the smart car was meant to stop us we would have been stopped before we got out on the water. What’s meant to happen is going to happen, a’ight? I know it’s hard to b–”
“There is no Rock,” Sarah moans. The tears make her eyes sparkle like starlight, not that Maxwell can see it. He’s too busy looking ahead towards the center of the lake. “No meteor’s going to crash, you’re making it all up! You’re crazy, you just want to kill me because I’m black!”
“I don’t want to kill you! ” Chief Maxwell shouts, then punches the windshield hard enough to crack two of his knuckles. Breathes a few times. “And I ain’t go’n’a.”
“Wait, what?” Sarah asks. “Wh… what do you mean? I’m not going to die?”
“I mean I’m not go’n’a be the one to kill you, Sarah,” Chief clarifies. “None of the Fellers are, either. All we’re go’n’a do is take you to the middle of the lake. Rock’s go’n take care of the rest.”
Sarah takes a minute to think about this, then decides Maxwell is lying.
“You’re lying,” she says, making her decision known. “You… you’re racist and crazy, and you just don’t want to feel guilty until it’s done, you just want to preten–”
“Ain’t no pretendin’,” Maxwell says solemnly. “Ain’t a racist bone in my body, neither. In none of the Fellers’ bodies, except for maybe Jim Hubert.” Maxwell chuckles strangely. “Matt’a’fact, that’s why I left him back on the docks. He’s the only one of us who poses an actual threat to you.” He turns a somber and heavy face upon Sarah so she can see just how lost he feels. “I don’t want you to die, Sarah Hammond. But there’s just no choice in the matter. It’s either you or my town, and I can’t let my town die.”
“What about my parents then, Chief Maxwell?” Sarah demands coldly. “You let your Jim kill them.”
“He ain’t my Jim – let’s get one thing straight, he ain’t anybody’s Jim. And he ain’t a very good shot, either. They might have wound up as collateral damage, but… I don’t know, Sarah. Maybe they lived.” He sighs. “Won’t matter either way. When Rock takes you out It’s takin’ out all the Earthen folk. You’ll all turn into piles of Earth before the clocks strike midnight, and that’s just what it is.”
And that’s just what it is. Just like that, so simple. So concise. And that’s just what it is. Sarah backpedals into the door and slides down to the floor, her mouth hanging slack. And that’s just what it is. She hadn’t considered the possibility that all this might actually – like, really and actually – be real. You’ll all turn into piles of dirt before the clock strikes midnight, and that’s just what it is.
Maxwell wants to say more, but he’s not sure there’s much more to say. They had their little chat, just like The Tome instructed, and the conversation naturally led to her parents, just like The Tome promised. Why the book wanted Chief Maxwell to lie to the girl and give her false hope about her deceased parents he’ll never know, but little details like that don’t matter now. Now, all that’s left is to bring the Earthen girl named Sarah Hammond to the center of Atacama Lake and let Rock do the rest.
And Rock will come. After all the Fellers have been through… after all they’ve done… Rock has to come.
‘You better come to us, Rock,’ Chief Maxwell thinks to himself as Sarah begins to weep behind him. ‘God help us, you just better come.’
Hello Commons, this has been the fourth subchapter of the last chapter of Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox, a novel about a man who likes to eavesdrop on his neighbors.
Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox is the second book in the W-2222 series, a series of books which take place in Universe W-2222.
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